MPs and special advisers were conspicuously sparse at Connect
Public Affair’s barbecue party last week - the first post-lobbygate
agency bash - which was held right under the nose of the Labour party,
in Millbank Tower Gardens.
The shuttle bus specially laid on by the agency to ferry politicians to
and from the House of Commons was spotted at 7.15pm - prime party-going
time - dropping a single passenger off outside Millbank.
Still, Connect can always claim they faced strong competition that
evening from four other political parties: the New Statesman’s summer
do, Shandwick’s corporate shindig at the London Aquarium, civil service
union First Division Association’s bash and a party held at Downing
Street for ministers - perhaps a secret ploy to keep them out of
Connect did manage one star appearance, though: the deputy prime
minister John Prescott, who Connect managing director Gill Morris tells
me danced the night away with her to the tune of a live jazz band.
Morris said cheekily: ’Of course I danced with him - he’s my mate!’ She
added that: ’We didn’t expect to get lots of MPs. We knew they wouldn’t
come because they’d been told not to.’